Wednesday, January 05, 2005

Here's a trial balloon the supporters of the GWOT need to shoot down immediately before it can endanger our security, hamstring our war effort and jeopardize the entire strategy of " Connectivity" upon which a future worth creating depends.

Daniel Pipes ( hat tip Collounsbury) has written a controversial column implicitly endorsing internment for American Muslims. Perhaps I have misinterpreted things, if so, I invite Dr. Pipes to clarify. I'll post his rebuttal.

I'm not exactly soft on the Terror War. In many instances - notably on Gitmo detainees where I think we should have proceeded directly to war crimes trials for al Qaida members and upon conviction, imposed the death penalty - I'm to the right of the Bush administration. I've vigorously supported the idea of making the financial and clerical supporters of terrorism legitimate military targets. I have criticized highly placed idiots like Norman Mineta for impeding reasonable security precautions rooted in common sense counterintelligence principles on PC grounds of " discrimination". I'm all for prosecuting Muslim extremists like Sami al-Arian for supporting terror groups at war with this nation. Acting against individuals who conspire against the United States government or taking reasonable security precautions in war time is perfectly proper.

By juxtaposing the internment of Japanese-Americans during WWII with the above measures Dr. Pipes has sought to legitimize the idea of doing the same thing to American Muslims because they are Muslims.

Morally, this would be an appalling injustice - citing Michelle Malkin's book does not justify this crackpot scheme whatsoever. Economically it would be a massive waste of resources to round up and incarcerate millions of innocent people. Strategically, there really wouldn't be a better way to turn the United States into an international pariah. It would be another Abu Ghraib but tenfold in magnitude. Talk about disconnection ! What Western government - never mind an Arab one - would be on our side after that kind of policy is established ? To what extent would an attempt to campaign for this Pipes Plan aid the loony Left and the Islamist lobby in blocking and discrediting reasonable counterintelligence and security measures that protect all Americans ?

There are dumb ideas and then there are stridently dumb ones that manage, through a sheer audacity that fascinates onlookers, to disguise the degree to which they represent an impending disaster.

Daniel Pipes just gave us one of them.
I think that the problem, when talking about internment, is that two things are being conflated. First is the idea that you should never intern civilians in a war. I think that this was is what both Pipes and Malkin are most concerned to fight against. The second issue is using such a coarse screen on internment that you are attacking a fly of a problem with an elephant gun. The harm of the elephant gun far outweighs any benefit in fly removal.

The truth is that there are people who preach jihad and preach the sort of violent anti-Core push back that Osama bin Laden champions. Their adherents, the ones strictly following islamic jurisprudential rules, are a real national security threat. It's reasonable, under certain circumstances, that these people face internment.

The correct lessons should be drawn from WW II internment policy. If we can entirely avoid internment, we should. I think that we will be able to stick to that policy for the entire WoT as a practical matter. If doing so would endanger lives though, any internment undertaken still should take much better care in keeping innocent people out of camps.

I think that we're far below any danger level of collaboration between domestic muslims and foreign threats. If that collaboration level were to start to creep up, at a certain level intelligently done internment would make sense. Having the conversation now obviously is going to be seized on by the other side as propaganda to paint us as anti-muslim. Never having the conversation, no matter the level of domestic collaboration, would be as irresponsible as our security personnel were on 9/10.

I would categorize Pipes and Malkin as imprudent, not thinking properly to the consequences of their action, more than malicious or evil. I think that both would improve their work tremendously to recognize the ability of the information revolution to improve screens such that we could minimize mistakes made in the WW II era if we were ever to come to the point where an internment regime would be needed.

Let me be very clear, we're never going to get to that internment point unless we make a very long series of mistakes in the WoT and we're well on the path to losing the entire conflict, the caliphate is already relaunched and they're looking to expand. It would be a very different war.
I don't think it is even helpful to have the discussion at this point. It would just make the situation much worse.


I'm not going to characterize Pipes as malicious either ( though Collounsbury would. So would Cole and the Left) but while his expertise in ME affairs may be there his political judgement is becoming...forgive the expression....piss-poor. I say this as someone who when asked by Jaime Glazov from Frontpagemag, to write a supportive blurb for Pipes during his nomination, willingly obliged.( Glazov didn't use it when he corralled some better, bigger fish, which was fine).

There are not very many scholars of ME affairs who are supportive of the GWOT or are on the right. As such Pipes, like Bernard Lewis, has a high profile and in a sense Pipes is " representing" to an extent the critical view of Islamism.

By writing an ill-considered and frankly damn-fool article like that one, Pipes invites the Left to use him as a cartoon to discredit anti-Terror measures the way they used Joe McCarthy to discredit anti-communism.

I don't have a problem with intellectual bomb-throwing when the bombs are accurately targeted. This argument by Pipes and Malkin is so beyond the reasonable point they could be making that it amounts to " friendly fire ".

Michelle Malkin isn't a scholar per se either so I don't really hold her to the same standards as Pipes. She wrote a journalistic but decent book on immigration policy that sold modestly and has now adopted the Ann Coulter strategy of being a hot TV pundit saying outrageous things to drive book sales. Well and good for her, I'm all for ppl having success in the market but " Internment" hurts rather than helps on GWOT policy substance.
The only useful discussion on the subject at this time, IMO, is to note muslim cooperation, loyalty, and plain good sense in non-collaboration with OBL and say that by doing so, they have done as much as the Nisei soldiers of WW II to raise general american estimation of them. How the Nisei often joined as a positive response to the libel of the WW II interments need not be directly mentioned.

The nature of the forces arrayed against us allows us several luxuries that we did not have in WW II, one of which being that the other side's road to victory is so long that we can afford to wait on such desperate measures as internment to see which way domestic potential allies of our enemies really constitute a fifth column or one of our best possibilities to strike back. As far as I can tell official accounts of muslim cooperation have been pretty positive. In short, the muslims pass the "are you an american test".
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